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The Art of Slow Travel

Where Can You Travel?
kayak milford sound new zealandEurope is the most popular destination for slow travelers because vacation rentals are plentiful, public transportation systems are efficient, historic attractions are relatively close together and English is widely spoken.

Vacation rentals are also easy to find in Australia/New Zealand, the Caribbean, Canada and the U.S., while Canada is well known as an excellent destination for long cross-country train journeys.

However, slow travel is a mindset, not a destination -- and with a little planning, you can do it almost anywhere.

How to "Go Slow"
Accommodations: Slow travelers generally stay in vacation rentals, which tend to be more cost-efficient than hotels for longer stays as well as more spacious and homey. Be sure to book your vacation rental well in advance and keep in mind that many properties, especially in Europe, must be booked from Saturday to Saturday.

Tips for Finding a Vacation Rental

Home exchanging is another good alternative for lengthy stays. Often your home exchange partner will leave an introduction to friends and neighbors, allowing you to immediately feel part of your new community. You may even get to use your exchange partner's car while you're in the area.

Meals: In the spirit of slow food, try to seek out local ingredients and experience the regional cuisine of the place you're visiting. Cooking for yourself? Join the locals at the fish market first thing in the morning to pick up a fresh catch for dinner that night, or pop by the bakery for a baguette right from the oven. If you're eating out, patronize locally owned cafes and restaurants.

Transportation: Traveling by rail can be a relaxing and often luxurious way to see the countryside, particularly in places like Canada and Europe. Trains in both of these regions are comfortable and efficient, and a variety of rail passes are available to help you cut costs. (Learn more about train travel.)

A road trip can also be considered slow travel if you take the back roads instead of the highways, and stop often to get a taste of local life. Get tips and ideas in our Road Trip Center.

Other "slow" alternatives include biking, river barging, walking and even running.

Tours and Special Programs: Planning your own trip is all well and good, but you may also be interested in special offerings from tour providers such as cooking classes, organized volunteer vacations and guided walking tours. Don't forget to look into these resources (either online or in a good guidebook) while planning your trip.

When "Slow" Is a No-Go
train little girlWhile slow travel is an increasingly popular option for people looking to enrich their travel experiences, it's not for everyone. For one thing, it can be very, well ... slow. If packing a lot of sightseeing into each day makes you feel excited and energized, then you may find a more laid-back pace of life frustrating or dull. And while "there's always another trip" is the unofficial motto of slow travel, we recognize that this isn't the case for all travelers, particularly those on a tight budget. If you think this may be your one and only trip to Italy (or New Zealand, or Morocco...), then you need to decide what's most important to you: traditional sightseeing or an intimate cultural experience.

Get Inspired
The following sites may inform or inspire your own slow journeys:

SlowTrav.com: Trip reports, vacation rental reviews and other resources for slow travel in Europe and around the world.

SlowMovement.com: The Web site of the worldwide Slow Movement, including info on slow travel, slow cities, slow food and more.

ConstantTrek.com: One woman's solo walking journeys across Europe and the Sahara Desert.

SlowTravelTours.com: Small-group tour operators offering "slow" experiences in Europe

Slow-Travel-for-Women.com: Small-group tours for women travelers

You May Also Like
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  • Get the Free Independent Traveler Newsletter!

    --written by Sarah Schlichter

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